Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Guide

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) | Everything You Need to Know

Discover how Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) can help you achieve a nationally recognised qualification using your formal and informal experiences and skills you already have.

Today we answer 7 questions about what an RPL assessment is and how it can reduce the amount of time it would take for you to complete a course without actually studying it.

1. What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)?

Recognition of prior learning is an assessment process that involves the assessment of an individual’s relevant prior learning (including formal, informal, and non-formal learning) to determine the course outcome.

Just like the description above, RPL could be a very confusing term and people fail to understand how a RPL assessment can fast-track your way to a formal qualification without actually studying a course. In simpler words, RPL is all about recognising the skills and knowledge you have collected through work and life experiences and then turning them to current industry requirements to achieve a qualification. You can save time and money through RPL.

A classic example is a participant who has been working as a coffee shop barista for three years, rather than studying the unit of competency SITHFAB005 – Prepare and serve espresso coffee, may request a RPL assessment for this unit.

2. What is the difference between achieving a qualification via RPL and formal studies?

RPL is for someone who has spent time gaining experience whereas formal study is for those who are new to the industry and want to learn the tricks of the trade from scratch.

For example, according to the Australian Qualifications Framework, a Certificate IV in Hospitality via formal studies is typically about 6 months to 2 years in duration. The same qualification via RPL could be completed in just a few days or weeks depending on the quality of the participant in the evidence gathering process described above.

3. Is a qualification completed via RPL assessment accepted all over Australia?

Yes, RPL assessment is recognised all over Australia. That is why you achieve a Nationally Recognised Qualification upon the successful completion of the RPL assessment. 

4. How can I receive a nationally recognised qualification via RPL assessment?

You can receive a nationally recognised qualification via RPL through a registered training provider such as Page Institute. We help you turn your on-the-job, formal, and informal learning acquired throughout your career into a nationally recognised qualification through our streamlined process. We have assisted over 900 participants to date in 4 simple steps as below:

  1. Initial assessment stage: As a participant, you inform us about the skills you have gathered throughout your career via formal and informal learning. In this early stage, we extensively discuss details that you would otherwise mention in your resume. Once we know everything about your career experience, we inform you whether you would qualify for RPL.
  2. Evidence gathering process: During this stage, we work with you to gather as much evidence as possible including videos of tasks performed, photos, reference letters, work samples, a current resume, certificates, transcripts, overseas qualifications and any other learning experiences. This is your chance to showcase what you’ve got. We always remind our participants about the old and famous saying – the more the merrier!

    The evidence gathering process is usually a combination of the following actions:

  • Interviewing the participant and having them undertaking an oral test. Eg. having a hospitality staff member explain their organisation’s food hygiene policy.
  • Observing the participant in their workplace (or simulated environment) carrying out specific job tasks. Eg. watching a barista prepare an espresso coffee and apply different milk texturing processes.
  • Having the participant undertake written examinations and assessments. Eg. Having a hospitality manager prepare a staff roster and submit a copy.
  • Considering documents and testimonials. Eg. a duty manger submits completion documents from a non-accredited course such as their internal training platform using industry recognised software.
  • Reviewing portfolio items. Eg. a chef submits a portfolio of completed menus highlighting the use of several major food items.
  1. Compliance check: Once our assessors have worked with you to build your portfolio, the compliance team will moderate your portfolio to ensure that it meets the national compliance standards.
  2. Get qualified! Once your portfolio is passed by our compliance team, we issue your Nationally Recognised Qualification. Do yourself a favor and pat your back, you are now on course to grab your promotion!

5. What are the benefits of RPL?

While anyone who has completed an RPL assessment would say there are countless benefits, the top three winners in our opinion are:

  1. Formal recognition of industry background and experience: In some circumstances, a participant can achieve a full qualification based on their skills and experience in a related workplace.

    For example, a hospitality supervisor has been working for a company for more than 20 years but (apart from barista courses and other short courses) has never undertaken any formal study. Using RPL they might be able to achieve a full SIT40416 Certificate IV in Hospitality based on their industry background and skills.

  2. To gain entry into a qualification: Based on their workplace skills and knowledge, some students can qualify for entry into higher education or along a vocational learning pathway.

    For example: to enrol in a SIR40316 Certificate IV in Retail Management a student must already hold a SIR30216 Certificate III in Retail. However, they might gain entry into the qualification if a student had a retail experience where they were already using the skills and knowledge described in the core units of competency from the SIR30216 Certificate III in Retail.

  3. Shorter course completion times: By recognising outcomes already achieved through career experience, participants do not waste time repeating the same learning. They can instead fast-track their qualification by applying existing skills and industry knowledge.

    Referring back to the example mentioned in the above section, according to the Australian Qualifications Framework, a Certificate IV in Hospitality via formal studies is typically about 6 months to 2 years in duration. The same qualification via RPL could be completed in just a few days or weeks as it does not require participants to repeat the learning process.

6. How much does an RPL assessment cost?

The pricing varies depending on your visa status.

If you are a permanent resident or an Australian citizen residing in Queensland, you may be eligible for our Certificate 3 Guarantee or Higher Level Skills Program funded by the Queensland Government. As such, you will only be required to pay a small co-contribution fee which is usually under $30.

If you are an international student, we run several offers and promotions based on your experience and the amount of work that will be required of us. It is best to contact us so we quote you a fair price.

7. I am an international student, should I get RPL?

Your Australian employer may not recognise or accept your overseas qualification or experience. In such cases, RPL is your easiest way to obtain an Australian recognised qualification. RPL is extremely useful for those who have the experience, knowledge, and skills acquired overseas to work in a profession, but no official educational qualification.

For example, you may require a Diploma or a Certificate level qualification in order to obtain a visa or pass a skills assessment. You could also be someone who needs to obtain a license to work in a profession such as a chef. In such cases, you may be required to obtain an Australian recognised qualification.